‘It’s your problem, not mine’: Foreign visitors stranded in Hong Kong airport confront protesters
Foreigners got stuck and weren't happy.
Massive demonstrations took place in the Hong Kong International Airport for two consecutive days straight on Monday and Tuesday, Aug. 12 and 13.
Desperate bid to get government to listen
Protesters had aimed to paralyse one of the world’s busiest logistics hub in a bid to pressure the Hong Kong government to accede to their demands, or at least talk to them.
Nearly 200 flights coming in and out of Hong Kong were canceled today, on the fourth and largest day of sit-ins by anti-government protesters at the city's international airport.
— CNN (@CNN) August 12, 2019
Multiple flights were cancelled, and many visitors were left stranded.
On the second day, protesters took to blocking the entrance, preventing travellers from entering the departure hall to board their planes.
And as travellers confronted the protesters, emotions ran high.
While protesters held up placards that asked for understanding from these travellers, many were frustrated that their plans were disrupted due to an internal problem that had nothing to do with them.
Protesters, however, have justified their sit-in using a number of reasons, one of which is: “While the travellers might be temporarily stranded at the airport, Hongkongers are stuck in the same place permanently unless they do something about their situation.”
Naturally, it is not easy for others to understand their cause, and this resulted in intense situations where travellers even got into scuffles with the protesters while trying to fight their way through.
Here are some instances:
“It’s your problem, not mine”
Uploaded to Twitter by South China Morning Post (SCMP) reporter Xinqi Su, this video shows a group of tourists trying to make their way through the protesters, and pass the makeshift barricades put up using luggage trolleys.
As the tourists tried to reason with the protesters, a female protester called for more people to join them in blocking the departure hall.
One of the tourists said: “Why are you staying in my way? You have problem with your government, not me.”
A group of impatient foreign passengers tried to crash the cart chain and a brief quarrel erupted. "You have a problem with your government, not me!" one said. Another called the #AntiELAB protesters "mafia". @hkairport pic.twitter.com/PNBCOr7KiT
— Xinqi Su (@XinqiSu) August 13, 2019
Another video posted by Xinqi Su shows a confrontation between a foreign woman and protesters outside the departure hall.
The woman repeated that she has a baby, and that she needs to get home to her daughter.
However, the protesters remained unyielding, and simply responded:
- All flights are cancelled.
- All travellers are advised to leave the airport as soon as possible.
- None shall pass!
- This is a government that kills people, you didn’t care!
It is unknown if the woman managed to pass through the crowd and catch her flight in the end.
“Hong Kong is part of China, go get a job!”
In a widely circulated video uploaded by Chinese state media Global Times, an Australian man based in Guangdong province, China, was arguing with two other protesters in the Hong Kong airport.
#HongKong protesters got in the way of a foreign tourist in #HK airport after all departures were canceled due to sit-in protests. The tourist fought back: "Hong Kong is a part of China!" "Go get a job!" #香港 pic.twitter.com/Ylso5Xykfx
— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) August 12, 2019
He made his pro-China stance clear right from the start: “The sooner Hong Kong actually becomes a part of mainland China, which it was designed to be, the better it’s going to be.”
He added that Hong Kong and Taiwan are both part of China, which is recognised all around the world.
On the other hand, the protester in white top kept questioning the Australian traveller whether he was simply concerned with his personal journey.
He also tried to explain that the protesters are trying to protect the system in place in Hong Kong, and are fighting for the city’s future as well.
These are issues that are larger than the protesters themselves, he said.
The man then replied:
“You need to be working, go get a job.”
Another black-shirted protester carried on the conversation, asking him for his opinion on the Hong Kong police, who have been accused of utilising disproportionate force against the protesters.
The traveller said he believed that “the police have been very restrained as the protesters were seen throwing bricks and Molotov cocktails”, which the protesters disagreed with.
The police was recently accused of shooting rubber bullets at protesters at close range, which ended up rupturing a woman’s right eye.
The video ended with the Australian man saying “I’ve said enough”, before walking away.
“DNLM! We are all Chinese!”
Two mainland visitors were also seen confronting protesters outside the arrival hall.
This man tried to connect with the Hongkong protesters with a native Cantonese phrase: “DNLM” pic.twitter.com/yPKyNkV1Gj
— Jeffie Lam (@jeffielam) August 13, 2019
The man in black shouted: “Does this place belong to the US? Is there Chinese flag? You can also hang Hong Kong flag, why must you hang the American flag?”
The other man in white added that others would only recognise the protesters as Chinese, instead of American, outside of Hong Kong.
An elderly man from Hong Kong then asked them to go away as he walked past the two mainland Chinese men.
The man in black then shouted “DNLM!”, a Cantonese phrase meaning “screw your mother”, as he was led away by the airport security guards.
“We are all Chinese!” the agitated man said repeatedly.
Meanwhile, the other man flipped the protesters off, who cheered and waved at the mainland Chinese tourists as they left.
The protesters shouted after them, “Are you a Communist Party member? Go back to mainland China!”
Sympathetic but also disagree with the action
Barbara Hill, an Australian woman aged 84 and on a wheelchair, was among the many visitors who were stranded in Hong Kong airport due to the mass demonstration.
Speaking to the local media, Hill said she was sympathetic to the protesters’ cause.
However, she said they are “harming their cause” by stopping passengers from getting through, as they would have a “bad experience of the airport”.
Some Hongkongers share the same sentiments as Hill, saying that such actions would only undermine the image of the movement, resulting in the tide turning against them and losing the media battle to pro-government supporters.
Others see this condemnation as “cutting ties” with the protesters, which only further divides the protesters and does nothing constructive for the movement.